Wednesday, December 19, 2007


This Sunday I will wrap up the four-part series of Christmas messages called "What Is Your Impossible?" I don't know if anyone else learns anything from my preaching, but I know I do. Sometimes Christmas messages can be extra challenging. What can I say that will be fresh? How do I take the Bible's most familiar story and make it come alive for the present?

During the series this year, God has been stretching my faith. We all face situations that seem impossible. But what a great reminder the angel gave Mary and gives to us: "For all things are possible with God" (Luke 1:37).

Did you hear the story of Kyle MacDonald and his red paperclip? He was stuck in a dead-end job and money was extremely tight. Kyle came up with a plan. Starting with one red paperclip, he would trade on the Internet until he exchanged it for a house. Far-fetched, huh? Impossible?

First, he traded the red paperclip for a fish-shaped pen. Then he traded the pen for a doorknob and the doorknob for a Coleman stove. He traded the Coleman stove for an electric generator. He traded the electric generator for a Budweiser sign and a keg of beer (sorry, just the truth), which he traded for a snowmobile. Exactly one year and 14 trades later, he finally reached his goal. He exchanged a part in a Hollywood movie for a home in Saskatchewan, Canada.

This is a true story that is told in his book One Red Paperclip. And, you guessed it, the story is being made into a movie. Fame and fortune--all starting with someone in a dead-end job and one red paperclip.

This story reminds me of the Incarnation of Christ. A tiny, innocent baby born to an ordinary Mary who one day would die on a cross to save people from their sins. God in the flesh. The Savior of the world. The King of all kings. The Lord of all lords. Who would have thought...?

But that's what God does today also. He takes the ordinary and does the impossible. The story of the red paperclip reminds us of the power of the human mind and self-determination. But that's nothing compared to what God can do and wants to do. The Christ of Christmas still works miracles. What is your impossible? Doing the impossible is nothing to God. Surrender your life completely to Him and see what miracles He will do in your life. "For all things are possible with God!"

May God fill your life with a special touch of His power and presence this Christmas season.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Here are some recent gleanings from my read through 2 Corinthians.

  • After reading this letter, it is obvious that church members attacking church leaders is not a new thing.
  • Just like Paul, I need to remember that my ministry is planned by God and that I am on a mission sent by Jesus.
  • Sometimes difficult confrontations must occur in order to preserve the unity of the church.
  • God transfigures our lives as we walk with Him each day.
  • The hard times we go through now are "small potatoes" compared to the lavish blessings we will have one day.
  • Since we all will stand before Christ one day, I must do everything I can to help people be ready on that day.
  • 5:16-21 is one of the most powerful paragraphs in the whole Bible.
  • Jesus died for our sins; our lives have been transformed; and now we must tell others.
  • When we live inside the fence, the result is feelings of insignificance. If I truly want to live, I need to get outside the fence (but, of course, still bound by the teachings of Scripture).
  • We should make a clear break with anything that defiles or distracts us from reaching our God-given potential.
  • 8:9--great evidence that Jesus co-existed with God from the beginning of time. When else would Jesus have been "rich"?
  • Great principle for giving--the more generous I am in giving, the more generous God will be to me.
  • More important than what I think about myself is what God thinks about me.
  • If you think you're going through tough times, just read Paul's story in 11:23-27. No comparison.
  • God's grace is all I ever need to face any trial, temptation, or weakness.
  • I need to do regular spiritual checkups to make sure my faith is solid. Is it? Is it evident that Christ lives in me?

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


What a great title for a Christian book--Going All the Way. Craig Groeschel was nice enough to send me a copy as long as I'd write a blog about it. Craig leads, one of the most innovative churches in America. I had the privilege of hearing him speak this fall's Catalyst Conference. He is an excellent communicator. And God is using him to reach hundreds and hundreds for Christ.

As far as Going All the Way is concerned, my biggest question is: where was this book when I was in late high school, college, and in my early married years? The book's subtitle is Preparing for a Marriage That Goes the Distance. If you have high schoolers, college students, singles, just marrieds or if you fit into any of these categories, stop reading this blog now and click on the link above and purchase a copy. And in May when you give out graduation gifts, don't give "Chicken Soup for the Graduate". Give a copy of Groeschel's book.

Craig writes in a style that is very readable and very practical. The book is filled with biblical truth and personal stories. And in his typical fashion, he scatters the pages with laugh-out-loud humor.

He goes into great detail explaining why Jesus needs to be number one and your girlfriend/fiancee/wife needs to be number two. In developing a relationship with the opposite sex, he uses the analogy of the gears of an automobile to talk about the first gear of friendship to the fifth gear of marriage. He pulls no punches in talking straight about the sexual relationship.

To give you a glimpse of how practical this book is, he gives a checklist for signs of a bad relationship: your friends and parents are opposed to the relationship, your boyfriend/girlfriend has a bad relationship with his/her parents, he/she is running from God, etc. I can think back on all three of my sons and wish that I had this checklist to open their eyes with some of their relationships.

Bottom line--great book. For preachers needing good resources when preaching on dating and marriage this is a great read. For parents of high schoolers and college students, put this book in their hands today. For high schoolers, college students, and single adults, reduce your eating out one time this week and go buy the book. And, Craig, I'm always open for free books.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Thursday, November 29, 2007


I told you I had some catching up to do. So here are some gleanings from my recent read through 1 Corinthians.

  • This letter reminds me that for many, conversion does not automatically generate complete behavior transformation and that even Christians sometimes live like pagans.
  • God is great at choosing and using the "nobodies" of this world.
  • Can this verse be said of you/me? "The evidence of Christ has been clearly verified in your lives."
  • I can work extremely hard for Chapin Baptist Church, but I must remember that it is God who grows the church.
  • Ungodly behavior in the church must be confronted. The Message Bible says, "If necessary, clean house."
  • "Just because something is technically legal doesn't mean that it is spiritually appropriate." (Perhaps as in the controversial subject of drinking)
  • Marriage is a decision to serve the other.
  • Could my behavior/actions in any way be a stumbling block to others? Shouldn't I give that behavior up, even though essentially there is nothing wrong with it?
  • I want to run hard for the finish line. I want to be in top condition when I cross it. Therefore, sloppy living must be out.
  • I am not exempt, nor are you, from any moral downfall. Beware of self-confidence. The key is having God-confidence.
  • The Lord's Supper is a vital part of our spiritual journey and should never be observed in a half-hearted manner.
  • When every member of the body is using his/her special God-given gift, it is a beautiful thing.
  • The love list in chapter 13 always humbles me. This time what hit me was, "Love cares more for others than for self."
  • 14:39 is a great verse for preachers: "When you speak forth God's truth, speak your heart out."
  • Nothing I do for the kingdom is a waste of time. So every day I need to "throw" myself into His work.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."


Yes, I've been reading my Bible each day. I'm just behind on my "journey" blogs. Here are some gleanings from my recent read through the Book of Judges.

  • The theme of the book could is the same as year 2007: People did what was right in their own eyes.
  • It is amazing how God uses corrupt people to accomplish His purposes (again true today).
  • Joshua (previous book) was a great, godly leader. Why didn't the generation after him not know God or the works He did for Israel? Christianity is always one generation away from being impotent.
  • Moving forward out of a disobedient spirit is not a wise thing to do.
  • Common pattern in the book: People rebel against God, God sends punishment through a foreign ruler, people cry out and repent, God raises a leader, enemy is defeated, people rebel, and the cycle repeats.
  • My favorite person in the book is Ehud. We left-handed people stick together.
  • My least favorite person is Jael. She kept me from making a 100 on an Old Testament test in seminary (30 years later and I still remember that).
  • The Song of Deborah is not your typical love song.
  • Gideon, like many today, blamed God for his woes instead of admitting his disobedience.
  • We must get rid of all other gods before erecting an altar to the true God.
  • Gideon, how many signs do you need? But aren't we the same way?
  • The key to Gideon's success--God's Spirit was upon him.
  • Did you notice that Gideon didn't argue when his army was cut to 300? What faith!
  • When Gideon learned about Midian's fear, he didn't wallow in pride. He got on his knees.
  • Gideon was in the middle of celebrating a great victory when he had to deal with a bunch of whiners who wondered why they weren't included.
  • Not long after the victory, they were back to their sinful ways.
  • Gideon had 70 sons--a busy man he was.
  • Abimilech demonstrates the dangers of a divided people.
  • I'm grateful that God forgives even when we fall into the same sinful traps over and over.
  • Jephthah--Don't make stupid, irrational vows to God.
  • English teachers would love chapter 12--Is it Sibboleth or Shibboleth?
  • Lessons for parents from Samson's parents: marital communication, praying for wisdom on how to raise our kids, and putting God first.
  • God set apart Samson, but he tried to do stuff in his own power.
  • Samson is the story of the tragedy of wasted potential.
  • Samson didn't know that God's Spirit had left him--how sad.
  • How could a husband give his wife to a bunch of sex-crazed men and then sleep through the night while they raped her? Is our culture any different?
  • It is not a pretty picture when believers fight each other.
  • Chapter 21 speaks to the issue of community--the people grieved at the thought that the tribe of Benjamin might become extinct.
  • The last verse of the book sums it all up--the people did what they felt like doing.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I was home on Thanksgiving break from college one year and my Mom "ordered" me to do something that was bizarre. She told me to sit down and write a list of all that I'm thankful for. I have no clue what prompted her to do this. We always had Thanksgiving dinner together as a family. And overall, I'd say that our family was a grateful one.

I don't remember my mom asking me to do much outside of a chore here and there or run an errand every now and then. But when she told me to sit down and write out my thanksgiving list, something inside me knew that she was serious. I don't remember how I initially responded; but bottom line, I sat down and wrote out my list.

My mom has had tremendous spiritual influence on me throughout my life. And she continues to amaze me with her faith. But this is one lifelong takeaway that I'm extremely grateful for. I tell this story every time I teach Class 201. Why? Because taking the time to sit and write a thanksgiving list is a great discipline. It helps put your life in proper perspective.

For November 2007, here are some of the many things for which I am grateful:

  • For a mother who still inspires me
  • For a wife that I'm deeply in love with
  • For three special sons that I know will make a positive impact on God's kingdom
  • For two new women in my life, Jamie and Erin, the future Kelly girls
  • For a church family that is the best in the world
  • For Friendly, Bruno, and Jade who challenge my patience every day
  • For my accountability partner Jody who is not only a great friend and confidant but a true Tiger
  • For a mind that still enjoys learning
  • For a church staff that loves Jesus and longs to see Chapin Baptist explode in the number of lives transformed
  • For God's Word that speaks fresh truth in my life each day
  • For our government leaders, whether I agree or disagree with them
  • For the freedoms we enjoy in America
  • For soldiers who defend our freedoms
  • Above all, for a Savior who forgives me and who still has great things in store for me.

Happy Thanksgiving to all! I love each one of you!

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


I believe the "Just Walk across the Room" thrust was one of the most practical things we have done in recent memory. As I stressed throughout the series, "Just Walk" is not just another program where we can say, "Well, we're done with that now. What's next?" Not at all. "Just Walk" is about a lifestyle of pointing people to Christ.

Encounter, Engage, EXPRESS! One of the best ways we can express our faith is to walk across a room and strike up a conversation with someone. Leading someone to become a Christ-follower may be as simple as you taking a walk across the room.

I know God has used this study to help me be more conscious of opportunities. I find myself praying more for people who need Christ. I find myself praying more that I will walk across more rooms. Almost everywhere I go now, I'm praying, "Lord, I'm available. Just let me know if there's someone I need to talk to.

Many of you invited and brought friends to church with you last Sunday. That was awesome. Counting decisions is always difficult. My guess is that around 10 made genuine decisions to give their lives to Christ. I don't know what moves me more--someone making a decision for Christ or someone moving to the other side of the worship center to love on and encourage a friend who has just given his/her life to Christ. That's what happened in the 11:05 service. I almost lost it right then and there.

Many of you introduced your friends to me after church. I appreciate that very much. Make that a habit anytime you have a guest with you. Yes, I wish more members would have invited their friends. But I'm telling you...God was at work because most of the people you introduced to me were not active members in other churches who just happened to check out a new church for the day. Some invited friends; some invited clients; some invited work partners; etc. That was awesome.

Get in the habit of inviting others every week. On our end we will do everything we can to assure that their experience at Chapin Baptist is a positive one. We want everyone, members and guests alike, to be able to encounter the living Christ during every worship experience. God wants to use you. Don't stop walking now. In fact, look for an opportunity today to "just walk across the room."

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Last week I blogged about my goal this year to improve my communication skills. I've read a number of books in this area since the beginning of the year. Listed below are a few nuggets from two recent reads.

One was The Articulate Executive by Granville Toogood (yep, that's his name). The book's subtitle is Learn to Look, Act, and Sound Like a Leader. Honestly, I thought the book was a bore. I felt like I was being talked down to. However, I guess his target audience is someone who has never spoken publicly. I was hungry for something new and fresh, but what I mostly got were reminders about introductions and conclusions in a talk, tone of voice, etc. I was even reminded to polish my shoes and always to wear knee level socks so that there is no danger that my white legs will show while sitting on the platform.

My greatest takeway from the book, however, was very helpful. Toogood calls it the 8-second rule. Here's how it works. After you have finished writing your speech/sermon/whatever, learn how to speak the essence of your talk in 2 minutes. Then get it down to 1 minute. Then get it down to 30 seconds. (I might not have the exact time elements accurate.) Finally, get your talk down to where you can say it in 8 seconds. If you can't say it in 8 seconds, then you have not done a good job capturing your main point.

That's a great discipline for sermon preparation. If I can' summarize my message in 8 seconds, then my main objective must not be very clear. The whole message should center around the 8-second synopsis. Andy Stanley says pretty much the same thing in his Communicating for a Change. He's a big proponent of the one-point sermon. He says if your sermon has three points, then you actually have three sermons instead of one.

The other book I found to be very interesting. It's called Words That Work by Frank Luntz. Its subtitle teaches a lesson that makes it worth the cost of the book: It's Not What You Say; It's What People Hear. Actually, I audio-read this one. It was helpful in giving me some updated insights into modern culture, such as future buzz words, things never to say, political words, etc. And it was a time to remininsce as Luntz reminded me of the top sayings in movies (like "Go ahead, make my day" and "Frankly, my dear, I don't (I better stop there)) and commericals whose jingles or one-liners are ingrained in our culture (like "Plop, plop, fiz, fiz" or "Snack, crackle, pop")

Luntz, for years, was a political strategist. Although he probably sways on the political conservative end, politicians from both parties have hired him as a consultant. He's very well-respected.

In one of the most insightful sections of the book Luntz offers a handful of buzz words and phrases that still have a future well-into the 21st century: imagine, hassel-free, lifestyle, accountability, results and can-do spirit, innovation, renew-revitalize-rejuvenate-restore-reinvent, efficient and efficiency, the right to, patient-centered, investment, casual elegance, independent, peace of mind, certified, all-American, prosperity, spirituality, financial security, a balanced approach, a culture of.

The book reminded me not to show off my vocabulary when speaking. Use words that you know people will understand. Keep it short and keep it simple. And, remember, it is not what you say that matters; it is what people hear.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Here are some thoughts on my recent journey through the Paul's letter to the Romans.

  • Romans explains the "So what?" of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
  • Background--Paul writes to several hundred believers in Rome, a place he had never visited at the time. It wasn't long before his letter overshadowed all other literary pieces coming out of Rome.
  • I long to be as passionate as Paul was in his desire to share the gospel with others.
  • When we go the sin route, we are trading the glory of God for cheap figurines.
  • When God withdraws His pull, all hell breaks loose.
  • God is kind, but He is not soft. His kindness leads to radical life-change.
  • It's better to be a pagan who keeps God's laws than a Baptist who doesn't.
  • Chapter 3 makes it unquestionably clear that we all start out as sinners.
  • The job of leading Chapin Baptist is too big for me. It's something only God can do. I must trust Him to do it.
  • I'm a friend of God's. WOW!
  • God not only saves me from trouble; He gives me life.
  • I am free to sin. But when I sin, I am not longer free. I don't have to say yes to sin because of the resurrection. True freedom comes from saying yes to Christ and no to sin.
  • That Paul struggled with his sin nature and old way of living gives me great encouragement that I'm not alone.
  • Romans 8 still amazes me. Has to be one of the greatest chapters in the Bible.
  • Paul had an overwhelming burden for the Israelites because they were lost, without Christ.
  • 10:9-10 remind me that nothing I do gives me salvation. It's trusting Jesus to grant it to me.
  • God is good at pruning and grafting.
  • Israel will always have a place in God's master plan.
  • Chapter 12 is one of the most practical chapters in the Bible.
  • Christians need to be active citizens in the community.
  • The sum of all the laws is love.
  • My lifestyle should be consistent with my beliefs. Otherwise, I'm living in sin.
  • I should always have a "How can I help?" attitude even if responding is not convenient.
  • The final chapter lists more that 35 people by name, suggesting the importance of teamwork, volunteers, and everyone doing his/her share.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Sunday, October 28, 2007


One of my goals for 2007 was to explore ways that I can become a better communicator. I've been preaching sermons for almost 30 years. But if I keep preaching today like I did 30 years ago...well, I have a feeling I wouldn't have many listeners. Although God's Word never changes, the way people listen and the way people communicate is forever changing. Since preaching is one of my primary assignments, I believe it is critical that I keep improving my communication skills.

When I was in seminary taking preaching classes, the professor had a set form that he graded you by. Of course, for the most part, expository preaching was the acceptable means--that is, taking a short passage of Scripture and preaching verse by verse, highlighting two or three key points. There are some leaders today who believe that if you are not preaching expository sermons, then you're not preaching biblical sermons. It's interesting, however, if you study the history of preaching since the first century, the expository style did not come into vogue until the 20th century.

I was taught to preach either two or three point sermons. It was imperative that the points emerged out of the brief text of Scripture. The title of the sermon had to lead into the points. For example, if the sermon title was, "You Can Be Happy," point 1 would be: You can be happy by focusing on God. Point 2: You can be happy by loving others. Then every point had to have three subcategories: interpretation, illustration, application. The professor was very flexible in that you could do the "i-i-a" in any order you wanted to. Of course, before you got to the points, you had to have a "get the attention of the audience" introduction. And the introduction had to state your specific objective in preaching the sermon. A manuscript was not complete until you had the whole sermon summarized in one sentence. (By the way, that's still a great discipline.)

Remember, a blog can be the random ramblings of the author. And I believe that's what I'm doing now. But it's all good. I said all this to say that there are an infinite number of ways to write and communicate biblical sermons. And I want to do everything I can to be a sharp communicator of His Word.

So, this year here are some things I have been doing. First, I'm reading a bunch of books on communication. Without doubt, the most helpful to me has been Andy Stanley's Communicating for a Change. Second, I have been listening to my own sermons. Man, that is humbling. I probably need to be videotaping--that would probably even be more humbling. Third, I'm listening to the sermons of well-respected communicators via podcasts. Of all the ones I listen to, the one that I try to catch every message from is Mark Driscoll. What a great teacher of God's Word! Others include Andy Stanly, Perry Noble, Rob Bell, Erwin McManus, Craig Groeschel, Ed Young, Jr., and Wayne Cordeiro. And, finally, I'm trying to stay abreast of the emerging generation's way of communicating because it is not the way your high school grammar teacher taught you to write and speak. I've even learned how to Itap my text messages. Whoeeee! I've arrived!

There is one communication lesson I learned years ago that is still just as valid today. For me to communicate the Word sharply and relevantly, I must stay in the Word every day of my life. God's Word must be in me before I can do a good job of communicating it to others. That's one principle that will never change.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Every now and then I like to read a non-fiction book off the NY Times Bestseller list. Notice I said non-fiction. I don’t read a lot of fiction. Yes, I read the Left Behind series; and I love to read John Grisham. Outside of that, reading novels is a rare thing for me.

Anyway, I recently read Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad about My Neck. It’s a well-written book about getting old from a woman’s point of view. It’s quite humorous as she talks about stuff anywhere from her hairdos to apartment living to marriage to purses. I know, I know. What in the world am I doing reading a book like that? Honestly, I didn’t have a clue that was the nature of the book. I just read a brief synopsis saying it was a humorous look at getting old.

Anyway, this is not a blog where I list a bunch of bullets that represent all my great takeaways from the book…because actually there weren’t many.

However, I was grieved with the ending chapters as Nora writes about death and dying. As funny as she was describing some of her life’s journey, the way she dealt with death made me come away grieving for her soul. She alludes to her Jewish heritage throughout the book. But when it came to death, she was more matter-of-fact and less humorous. She treated the subject as if there is nothing to look forward to on the other side of the grave. She tried to get a little humorous when she talked about deciding against cremation because that might destroy her chances of being reincarnated into something else (although she admitted she had no basis for believing in reincarnation).

If there was one takeaway from the book, it reminded me that without Jesus there is no basis for hope. For those without Christ, how could they write anything differently? They have no basis for hope.

I wonder how many people I see at Crooked Creek Park each day who don’t have a relationship with Christ. I wonder how many in the neighborhoods within a few hundred yards of our church don’t know Jesus. I wonder about the people I see in restaurants. I wonder about the people I see tailgating around us at Clemson or sitting around us in the stadium.

1 Corinthians reminds us that if there is no resurrection, then we have no basis for hope. Without the resurrection we are doomed and still in our sins. But thanks be to God that through Jesus there is hope—hope that death does not have the final word, hope that in Jesus I have life eternal, hope that life does have meaning, and hope that one day I will be reunited with family and friends who have gone before me.

As much as my hope is real, I Feel Bad about My Neck should prompt me to walk across as many rooms as possible and seek to engage people in spiritual conversations. I admit that I don’t know the author personally, nor anything about her spiritual journey. But from what I read, I believe Nora Ephron represents the hundreds who cross our paths each day who have not captured the joy of knowing, loving, and serving Jesus Christ.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Here are some gleanings from my recent journey through the book of Joshua.

  • This book helps you understand why "land" is such a big issue for the nation of Israel. They lived for 400 years in Egypt away from their homeland and then another 40 years in the wilderness. 440 years without a home.
  • God's military strategy for Joshua--no survivors. Why? Because the 13th century BC culture was one of child sacrifice, sacred prostitution, practices that used children and virgins to manipulate the gods. There needed to be a total cleansing.
  • God promised the land to His people, with Joshua as the leader. What "land" is God promising to Chapin Baptist Church?
  • The key to success in fulfilling a vision--meditating on God's Word and obedience.
  • The people completely bought into the vision God gave Joshua.
  • God used a prostitute (Rahab) to accomplish His purposes (and even allowed her to serve a role in the messianic line).
  • We must consecrate ourselves before we will see miracles.
  • We must take the first step, a step of faith, before the miracles come.
  • There is great value in the people of God remembering key events that demonstrate the hand of God.
  • When the leader leads with obedience to God, the people respect the leader.
  • One of the interesting parts of Joshua's job descriptions was using stone knives to circumcise. Ouch! That was under the section "Perform other duties as assigned."
  • One sin in the camp can remove the blessings of God.
  • After the victory of Ai, an altar to God was built, giving Him all the credit.
  • Chapter 9--you better check with God before making decisions.
  • It's not wise to go up against the God of the universe. He can send hailstones bigger than bowling balls. He can even extend the hours of the day if He so chooses.
  • Joshua didn't completely wipe out Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod. This came back to haunt the people of God later (Goliath was from Gath).
  • About Caleb, 85 years old: "He gave himself totally to God." That's the way I want to be when I'm 85.
  • Chapter after chapter about the distribution of the Holy Land to the people of God. Again, great evidence as to why Israel serves such an important role in history.
  • God lived up to His promise that He would restore all the land to Israel.
  • Chapter 22--great example of how to handle problems. The tribes went directly to some of the other tribes when they saw a possible problems. Instead of jumping to conclusions, gossipping, and attacking, they went directly to the source of the issue and got everything clarified. Oh, that all Christians would do the same. They used the bucket of water instead of gasoline.
  • We must engage our culture; but we must also guard our souls against its ungodly influences.
  • God's past blessings should always be a motivation for total commitment.
  • God's hand of judgment always falls on those to decide to serve other gods.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."


Sometimes in my reading I will come across quotes that jar me into some deeper reflection. Here are a handful. See if they hit you like they did me.

  • "Churches today are using more methods to do more ministry in more different ways to accomplish more different results to reach more people and to involve more workers."
    (from 11 Innovations in the Local Church)
  • "Don't be content by doing things 10 percent better; do them 10 times better by jumping to the next curve." (Guy Kawasaki)
  • "If you're not failing every now and again, it's a sign you're not doing anything very innovative." (The great theologian Woody Allen)
  • "If Jesus had a church in Simi Valley, mine would be bigger. People would leave His church to attend mine because I call for an easier commitment." (Pastor Francis Chan)
  • "The church doesn't need to handhold people who are moving along in the later stages of the spiritual continuum." (Cally Parkinson in Reveal)
  • "Give me a hundred men who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of God on earth." (John Wesley)
  • "I've always found that God is seldom at the forefront of what is possible. If it's possible, we don't need God. However, I've always found God in the impossible." (Bill Easum)
  • "Vision is the most powerful tool in the church outside of the Holy Spirit. It moves people toward what is right, what is biblical, what God wants for our lives. But the very nature of vision puts a big ol' bull's eye on the leader's chest." (Ben Arment)
  • "Where there is light, there are bugs." (Chuck Swindoll)
  • "Remember, it is only when the whale rises to the top that it is harpooned." (Rick Warren)
  • "It's the worship service, stupid!" (Ed Young, Jr., {remember Bush's campaign slogan, "It's the economy, stupid?"})

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Monday, October 15, 2007


I'm blogging from Ridgecrest Conference Center in the mountains of N.C. It's beautiful up here. I'm with our other senior staff (Steve, Rick, Virginia, James, Michael). It just so happens that Philip Vaughn has about 25 of our senior adult members up here as well. They are attending a conference. We got to see them at supper tonight. They are extra-special people and a joy to be around.

The reason our senior staff is here is to get away from the office for a couple of days to think, pray, and strategize. We have been engaging in some very healthy discussions lately. Basically, it all comes down to this. We talk a lot about our vision of helping people connect with God and become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. And we're thinking out loud about how successful we are in achieving this vision. We've been asking some tough questions like: how successful are we in seeing that vision work? What percentage of our members are actually fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ? Are our current programs and structures designed to help people move toward Christlikeness? Are we reaching our potential for growth? I could keep listing the questions we're exploring, but I think you get the idea.

God has given us some super-excellent staff pastors. There is a great spirit of teamwork and mutual trust and encouragement. We're challenging each other not to be satisfied with status quo. We're taking our vision statement and trying to create ways that we can best fulfill it. If the bottom line is transformed lives, then we better make sure that everything we do as a church is designed to reach that objective.

I have no idea at this point where all these discussions will take us. Thom Rainer, president of Lifeway, in his recent Simple Church book, noted that his research team had to lower the bar in order to find a large enough sampling of churches to be classified as vibrant, growing churches. Their original bar was set at 10 percent growth a year for three consecutive years. Of the 43,000 churches in the Southern Baptist Convention, fewer than 200 met that requirement. That is sad! Unfortunately, Chapin Baptist would not have met the criteria for a vibrant, growing church. That's less than one-half of one percent. I'm not satisfied with where we are. And I don't believe God is either.

That's why we are having these discussions. We don't want to be like the rest of SB churches. We want to demonstrate that God is still in the business of transforming lives and He wants to do in it a big way that will result in the ongoing growth of His church. But for this change to happen, certainly it must be a God-thing. But it also requires that we honestly explore everything we do, how we do it, when we do it, where we do it...and then develop systems and strategies that will put us in a better position to touch many more lives for the kingdom.

What does it mean to be a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ? Do we have a process in place that moves people toward becoming such a disciple? Have we made it clear what that process is? We are seeking to clarify these answers and then establish a simple process that will help every member reach his/her fullest potential in Christ.

We're evaluating worship services, Sunday School, Chapin U, Class 101, deacons, every ministry, times we meet, length of times we meet, etc.

Again, where these discussion lead us, I do not know. But I have a feeling every one of us would jump on board with any change that would produce greater disciples for the kingdom. Agree?

In my very first blog, I indicated a desire to write about what God is doing in my life, what I'm reading, what I'm thinking, and where I see us headed. So take this blog as a reminder that your staff pastors are diligently seeking the answers to these questions. And please pray for us as we seek the heart of God.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Here are a couple more takeaways from last week's Catalyst Conference.

Craig Groeschel

Craig is founder of, a new way of doing church. Home base is in Oklahoma. The services are satellite fed to ten cites in the U.S. Because of its innovative approach to doing church, finds itself on lists of the largest, fastest growing, and most innovative churches in America. His topic was practical atheism.

  • A practical atheist is someone who believes God exists but lives as though He doesn't exist.

  • He shared from his own experience how doing the work of God was destroying the work of God in Him.

  • Three problems with practical atheism: (1) I start to believe my effort is greater than God's power. I think it's all about me. (2) I believe my private life doesn't affect my public ministry. (3) I believe I must please people more than please God. My question becomes, "What can I preach to bring people in?" and not, "What can I preach to bring glory to God?"

  • To overcome these three temptations, our prayer must become: God, disturb me.

Dave Ramsey

Dave is a NY Times Best-selling Author and national radio host. He's best known for his Financial Peace University. This is the first time I've heard him speak--excellent communicator.

  • Basically, he was telling young leaders how important it is to have a written budget and to get out of debt. I won't bore you with his outline. But I think his definition of prosperity is worth repeating: Prosperity is having the money to do God's will in your life.

  • Interesting observation he shared from a pastor: Tithers never divorce. Why? Because givers are unselfish and get along with others better.

  • What could the people of God do for the kingdom of God if they were debt-free?

  • Pastors would do well to preach less on tithing and more on how to plan finances and get out of debt.

Andy Stanley

Andy's final talk was worth the price of admission. He talked about building systems. There's no way to do justice to his talk with just a few bullets, but here goes.

  • There are organizational systems that are conducive to ministry and organziational systems that impede ministry.

  • There are organizational systems that free leaders to lead and organizational systems that obstruct leaders.

  • Systems defined: Your organization's approach to getting things done.

  • Systems create behavior. Example: Why is it that you can hit a grand slam on a five-week series of sermons on the family, but there is no noted change in people's lives? It's because there is no system in place to facilitate and prompt the change.

  • What is rewarded, people will do. The problem is that we tend to reward the wrong things.

  • Systems have a greater impact on organizational culture than do mission statements.

  • The New Testament does not present us with a comprehensive system or model. We learn what the early church did. But the Bible doesn't really tell us what church leaders need to do. Therefore we must distinguish what is descriptive and what is prescriptive.

  • We cannot have a first century church today because we are not living in the first century. The first century used the systems that was best for them. Churches today need to determine the systems that work best for them.

  • Congregational rule is not biblical. The times congregational rule was practiced, disaster resulted: Joseph's brothers voted to throw him in the pit; the people of God built a golden calf; they decided to appoint a king instead of following the prophet.

  • 4 system imperatives: (1) Your system should allow you to involve and hire the best person for the job. (2) Your system should provide you with the flexibility to get the right people to the table. (3) Your system should allow you to make complex decisions within the context of a small group of empowered individuals. (4) Your system should ensure that only one person answers to "they". ("they" would be the elders, deacons, leadership team, or whatever)

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."


This year’s Catalyst Conference in Atlanta was jammed up with great, well-known speakers. Check out my Sunday’s blog for a capsule of some of the other speakers.

Rick Warren
Rick’s influence for the kingdom is astounding. God is using this man to reach every corner of this world with the simple message of the gospel. I always enjoy hearing him share his story and cast vision in such profound yet simple terms.

If you want God’s anointing and blessing, you have to get with God’s agenda. His agenda is summed up in one word: Kingdom.

Stop asking God to bless you. Instead, ask Him to let you in on what He is blessing.

We should not be interested in changing culture. We should be interested in creating culture.

He took the story of Moses’ staff turning into a snake. The staff represented his identity (shepherd). It represented his income and possessions. It represented his influence (moving sheep). Experiencing God’s miracle was all about surrender. The staff came alive only when he turned it loose. From that moment on it was never called Moses’ staff. It was called the rod of God.

We are living in an era of a new reformation. The last reformation took place under Martin Luther 500 years ago. It was a reformation of creeds. The new one is a reformation of deeds. The old one was a reformation of beliefs. The new one is a reformation of behavior.

Unfortunately, the hands and the feet of the church have been amputated and all that is left is the mouth. (Ouch! He’s referring to the fact that the only thing the world sees the church doing is running its mouth about what it is against.)

Rick vision consists of five components. He calls them five global goliaths. He devotes his ministry to equipping Saddleback and churches around the world to tackle the world’s five most desperate problems (spiritual emptiness, corrupt leadership, poverty, preventable diseases, illiteracy).

John Maxwell
No one has helped me more in the arena of leadership than John Maxwell. God has given him a platform of helping the world’s top leaders understand that a relationship with Jesus Christ is the most important thing in the world. Maxwell, whose vision helped start Catalyst, was honored at this year’s conference.

As he gets older, he learns more how important it is to trust God more and to trust self less.

His one primary message to young leaders: Intentionally add value to people everyday.

The greatest sin of the leader is to put self first.

If you don’t add value, you’re subtracting value (sucking life from people)

4 ways to add value to people
You must value people (if you don’t value, you de-value)
Make yourself more valuable—keep growing and developing
Know and relate to what others value
Do the things God values

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Sunday, October 7, 2007


The Catalyst Conference began some years back as a leadership conference geared especially toward the under-40s crowd. In the last few years, however, they've stopped advertising it as such because us "older folks" have been infiltrating the conference. Still every year in Atlanta about 10,000 mostly young leaders converge for two days of great teaching and worship experiences. John Maxwell's organization sponsors the event. Last week a handful of us attended (James, Kenny, Matt Westlake, Pat Jeffcoat, Jody Flowers (Methodist pastor), and me) and came back with fresh vision and zeal for seeing God do His thing in us and among us.

With two or three posts I will try to give you some highlights of some of the things we learned. It's easy to give summaries of talks, but words can't express the moving times of worship and the outstanding creativity the Catalyst leaders bring to the event.

Andy Stanley--Andy opened the conference with a message from John 13. He stated that the person speaking or the person in charge of leading a meeting is the most powerful person in the room. What do you do when you know you're the most powerful person in the room? You leverage your power for the sake of the people in the room. You respond with servanthood and humility. The disciples were stunned at Jesus' humility. Has anyone been stunned lately at your humility? My humility? If we don't respond this way, then we're suggesting that we must be better than Jesus. Ouch!

Patrick Lencioni--best-selling author. Patrick recently released his newest book, The Three Signs of a Miserable Job. Usually I thoroughly enjoy hearing Lencioni. And I enjoyed this one. However, he is a professing ADHD person, and sometimes he gets side-tracked (but always uses humor to get redirected). And with this talk, he admitted that this was the first talk he's given on his recent book. And it was evident. He would be in the middle of telling a story, realize he was in the wrong place in his talk, change directions and leave us all confused. However, the message of his new book whetted my interest enough to want to read it.

The three signs of a miserable job are:

  1. Anonymity--All have a need to be known
  2. Irrelevance--People want to know that what they are doing is making a difference
  3. Measurement--People want to be able to measure their contribution. They want to know how well they are doing.

Francis Chan--my first time to hear Chan, pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, CA. A very powerful message that keyed on Jeremiah's call in Jeremiah 1. Some nuggets:

  • When I get up to preach/teach, do I really believe the Holy Spirit is inside me and will speak through me?
  • Do I really love my people? Chan shared some of his personal story of being a good pastor but not really loving God or his people.
  • Never say, "I can't." To do so is to put God down.
  • Alway be ready and willing to say with boldness what God wants you to say.
  • We are empowered by a great God, indwelt by a great God, and one day will give an account before a great God.
  • A quote from Chan worth pondering: "If Jesus had a church in Simi Valley, mine would be bigger. People would leave His church to attend mine because I call for an easier commitment."

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Review of REVEAL

I just finished reading Reveal by Greg Hawkins and Cally Parkinson. The book reveals the results of an intensive church-wide survey conducted with the membership of Willow Creek Church. The results were surprising and serve as eye-openers for any church whose mission is to help people grow toward Christlikeness. Here are some of my takeways from the book:

  • Although numbers matter to God, the health of the church is not about numbers. It is about the movement of people toward Christ and and genuine love for others. In other words, it's quality and quantity.
  • The primary surprise in the research project was that increased attendance in ministry programs does not automatically equate to spiritual growth.
  • It is much easier to count heads than to measure heart change.
  • The research revealed four distinct segments that people move through in their spiritual journey: exploring Christianity, growing in Christ, close to Christ, and Christ-centered.
  • Why isn't there a solid connection between participation in church activities and spiritual growth? Because God wired us first to be in a growing relationship with Him, not the church.
  • The church is most important in the early stages of spiritual growth. Then the church's role shifts to a secondary influence. As one moves toward spiritual maturity, the church moves from playing a spiritual development role to playing a platform for serving role.
  • For people to keep moving toward spiritual maturity, they must learn to develop spiritual disciplines and practice them on their own. In other words, the church doesn't need to handhold people who are moving through the close to Christ and Christ-centered stages. Instead, the church must do a better job of equipping mature Christians in spiritual disciplines (prayer, Bible study, serving, etc.)
  • The more one grows, the more he/she serves, gives, and evangelizes.
  • EYE-OPENER--More than 25 percent of those surveyed described themselves as spiritually "stalled" or "dissatisfied" with the role of the church in their spiritual growth. This dissatisfaction occurred primarily in the Close to Christ and Christ-centered stages. This phenomenon is likely due to lower levels of personal spiritual practices. This 25 percent have even contemplated leaving the church. The 25 percent of respondents represents about 10 percent of the membership.
  • A large segment of those contemplating leaving the church are those in the Christ-centered stage. In other words they are mature, serving, tithing believers.
  • Churches need to do a better job of preparing maturing believers for their journey ahead.
  • We must move people from dependence on the church to an interdependent partnership with the church. To do this we must transition the church from being a spiritual parent to being a spiritual coach.
  • Starting up spiritual dialogues with members would be a helpful thing to do. Ask questions like: How is your relationship with God? What could the church do differently to help you grow more?
  • Every church ministry should be evaluated with the question: How does it help someone grow?

This was an excellent read. I love for books to challenge me and to mess with my mind. I would give this book an A+ in that category. I've already given the book to some of our staff and look forward to some healthy discussions in upcoming planning meetings.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Thursday, September 27, 2007


In earlier blogs I have shared my passion and prayers that we would burst through our existing attendance barriers. I am praying that in the coming months we will be breaking these barriers and be moving past the 1,000 mark in weeky attendance. I'm not ashamed at all to talk about numbers because I believe God is interested in numbers. Each number represents people for whom Jesus gave His life. The more people we can bring to Christ, the bigger the kingdom becomes. I want every person in Chapin area to be in heaven with me.

In my recent blog I shared some insights from the book of Acts. Let me share a few additional nuggets from Acts that might answer the question, "Is God interested in numbers?"

  • 1:15--120 were in the upper room praying
  • 2:41--3,000 were baptized
  • 2:47--The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
  • 4:4--The number grew to about 5,000.
  • 5:14--More and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number.
  • 5:16--Crowds were coming
  • 6:1--The number of disciples was increasing.
  • 6:7--The number of disciples increased rapidly.
  • 8:1-4--Churches were multiplied.
  • 8:12 (Msg)--People were becoming believers right and left.
  • 9:31--The church grew in numbers.
  • 9:42--Many people believed in the Lord.
  • 11:21--A great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.
  • 11:24--A great number of people were brought to the Lord.
  • 11:26--Paul and Barnabas taught great numbers of people.
  • 12:24 (Msg)--The ministry of God's Word spread by leaps and bounds.
  • 13:49--The word of the Lord spread through the whole region.
  • 14:21--They won a large number of disciples.
  • 16:5--The churches grew daily in numbers.
  • 17:12--Many of the Jews believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.
  • 18:8--Many of the Corinthians believed and were baptized.
  • 19:10--All who dwelt in Asia heard the Word.
  • 21:20--Thousands of Jews believed.

Is God interested in numbers? You tell me. The good news is that the Holy Spirit who moved in the book of Acts is the same Holy Spirit who changes lives today. Think growth. Pray for growth. Pray for many to come to Christ.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


I love the book of Acts. Here are some of my gleanings from my recent read-through of this great book.

  • Did you know that 90% of the world's population in the first century was rural? Yet Paul focused most of his strategy on urban centers. Interesting.
  • Acts 1:8 is one of the most awesome verses in the Bible. We shouldn't be as concerned with second coming trivia as we should be with expanding God's kingdom. We have the promise of His power to witness. And He told us clearly the geography of our mission field.
  • Peter preached Jesus, urged the people over and over to repent, and then extended an invitation for them to come to Christ.
  • Peter and John faced great courage in the face of persecution. And when they prayed, they didn't pray for protection but for boldness.
  • Ananias and Sapphira is a story that reminds us that God is not to be trifled with.
  • Two things about Stephen's lengthy address: He knew the Old Testament left and right; and he didn't hold back as he boldly confronted people with their sins.
  • It is during the face of persecution that Christians do their best missionary work.
  • God can save the worst of sinners (as in Paul of Tarsus).
  • Amazing things happen when: people pray; people expect God to speak; and the preacher preaches about Jesus.
  • Where God is working, there will be opposition. But we must not be deterred.
  • Paul and Barnabas handpicked the leaders in each church they visited. They WERE the nominating committee.
  • In a church controversy, Pastor James heard all the sides and then he made the decision.
  • The book teaches us by example how important disciplemaking and follow-up are.
  • Paul's dream was the seed for a vision to take the gospel to the Western world. Talk about a huge vision!
  • Changed lives should be the norm of what happens in church.
  • When the church is operating on all cylinders, it is going to impact the culture around it (including stirring up some waves).
  • The most important value in Paul's life--he wanted to finish the task God gave him to do, namely, telling others about Jesus.
  • Paul was bilingual--Greek and Hebrew.
  • Paul did his dead-level best to keep a clean conscience before God and his neighbor.
  • Every believer needs to know how to tell his faith story.
  • Paul preached for life change.
  • Read to the end of the book and you will see that Paul was always open to tell others about Jesus.
  • The 29th chapter of Acts is still being written today.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

"Lame" Leadership

One of my favorite leadership books is John Maxwell's The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. In fact, Maxwell has probably helped shaped my leadership more than anyone else. I just read recently that his book has been revised and updated. It is my understanding that a few of the laws have been chunked and a few added. So much for "irrefutable" huh?

Recently I came across an online parody of Maxwell's book. It's called "The 31 Refutably Irrefutable Laws of Lame Leadership" by Johnny Leckie. It's a great and quick read and filled with humorous truth.

Let me give you a few of his entries to whet your appetite.

Law 2 is the Law of the Stone Tablets: "Never change the plan. Even if it's not working. In fact, if it's not working, keep at it. Do it harder. do more of it. Tell yourself that eventually it will produce a result that achieves the vision."

Law 5 is the Law of the Scorched Pan: "Let problems and conflicts simmer. Do not deal with them quickly. Allow them to stay in the 'crock pot' until their aroma fills the room. Tell yourself that if you 'nip it in the bud,' you'll miss the bouquet."

Law 9 is the Law of the Last Minute: "Consistently come up with brilliant ideas at the last minute and get your team to implement them for the 'sake of the vision.' Call it 'doing whatever it takes.' Do this regularly. Do it with dumb ideas also."

Law 16 is the Law of the Blank Stare: "Never make decisions. Do not be proactive. Wait for things to work themselves out on their own. Eventually react to whatever happens."

Law 27 is the Law of the Sinking Ship: "Never retreat and regroup. Go down with the ship. Take many people down with you. Have the 'at least we tried' mentality rather than the 'find a new ship or course' mentality in relation to the goals and health of the organization you are leading."

If you want to read the other laws, here is the link:

Speaking of leadership, what are you doing to become a more effective leader? What are you reading? Who are you equipping? Are you letting God transform your life?

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Sunday, September 9, 2007


Here are some gleanings from my recent journey through the book of Deuteronomy.

  • Did you know the book of Deuteronomy is a sermon? One long sermon, huh? And then the preacher dies after he preaches it.

  • Moses took the same message from God that was revealed to him 40 years earlier and re-told it in his contemporary context. That's the challenge for every preacher.

  • The covenant between God and the people was very clear--Here's what I've done for you, here's what you need to do, and here are the blessings if you do what I ask you to do.

  • Parents MUST teach their children and grandchildren the ways of God.

  • If you're serious about finding God, you will find him--if you seek Him with your whole heart.

  • Obedience to God and long life are directly proportional.

  • To teach children effectively, the truths must be in our own hearts first.

  • I've done nothing that has attracted God to me--it's all grace.

  • When material blessings abound, there is the danger of forgetting God.

  • To conquer new territory, God must cross the river first.

  • When we conquer new territory, it's all God and not us.

  • God's rules for life are simple. Obey and you'll be blessed. Disobey and you'll be cursed.

  • God doesn't like for anything to interfere with worship.

  • Tithes are to be brought to the place of worship.

  • God has a heart for the poor and expects His people to be generous to the poor.

  • God frowned on any sacrifice that had defects.

  • Engage the culture but don't get assimilated into the culture.

  • Eye for an eye--thank God that Jesus came to fulfill the law.

  • God promises to fight our battles.

  • Remember the story in the Gospels about the woman caught in adultery? In Deut. the man and the woman were put to death.

  • Keep all vows you make to God.

  • Be quiet. Listen. God still speaks.

  • The kind of commitment God expects: "Nothing half-hearted here; you must return to God, your God, totally, heart and soul, holding nothing back." (30:10, Msg)

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Thursday, September 6, 2007


One of my favorite preachers is Erwin McManus, pastor of Mosaic in Los Angeles. Several months ago he preached a message that still lingers in my mind. He talked about Ecclesiastes 1:9 where Solomon said, "There is nothing new under the sun." Then he proceeded to say that Solomon was wrong. Whoa! Was Erwin saying the Bible contains errors? Not at all.

I've used Solomon's statement on occasion to say that there is nothing new, just age-old things repackaged. But after chewing on this verse for some time, I agree with Erwin. Solomon was wrong. Remember, Solomon when he penned these words (even though he wrote them under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) was one messed up human being. His money and his women must have gotten him off track. After all, how much value would you place on someone who says, "Meaningless. Everything is meaningless"? Solomon is writing about his journey to find purpose in life. Just because he spoke/wrote the words does not mean that he was totally accurate in his philosophy. The Bible quotes the Pharisees accusing Jesus of working for Satan. Does that mean Jesus must have been working for Satan since the Bible says it? Ludicrous!

Anyway, going back to Solomon's statement, the most obvious proof that he was wrong is the Incarnation. I'd say on Christmas morning, God did a new thing. It wasn't a repackaging of anything.

Get out a concordance and look up the word new and you will discover that God thrives on new things. He is creative and innovative. He likes to do things in a fresh way.

  • I am about to do a brand new thing (Isa 43:19)
  • If any man is in Christ he is a new creation. The old has passed and the new has come. (2 Cor 5:17)
  • The book of Revelation talks about a new heaven and a new earth.
  • He puts a new song in my mouth (Ps 40:3). The old songs are good, but God likes new songs also.
  • Jesus said, "A new command I give to you...." (John 13:33-34)
  • At the first Lord's Supper, Jesus told His disciples, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood."
  • His compassions are new every morning. (Lam 3:22-23) I love that one!

God is doing a new thing in churches all across America. Ministry always has its challenges, but I can't think of a greater time to be serving the Lord in full-time Christian ministry. There is a new wave of high energy, participatory worship happening all around us. House churches are popping up everywhere. The uses of modern technology to communicate the gospel are endless--MySpace and Facebook, video feeds, satellite churches--the list goes on and on.

Yes, I believe Solomon was wrong. I believe God is still doing new things. He is not a stale God. And because we love and serve a creative God, Christians above all others should be the most innovative people in the world. Let's not put God in a box. And let's not do ministry in a box. Let's keep dreaming of ways that we can reach people for Jesus and help them become fully devoted followers of Christ.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

WE DIDN'T HIT 1,000, BUT....

Last Sunday was a super day at Chapin Baptist. Each week I can sense a fresh buzz and a sense of anticipation. Momentum is building and morale is high.

We prayed for a thousand last Sunday. And, honestly, we were a good piece away. The total for the three morning services and two student services was 800 on the button. Discouraged? No way! Those numbers represent a 30 percent jump from the previous week. That's remarkable! The new Ignite middle school worship got off to a great start. And a few new small groups began last Sunday. So overall, it was a fantastic Sunday.

Sometimes I'm asked how we count heads. Believe me, it is not scientific. But our ushers have been at it for a long time and they know how to count heads. When you see the tallies in the newsletter, the numbers for worship include the three morning worship services and Sunday evening student services. Most children attend worship and Bible study in the children's building. We don't include the two hours of Sunday morning children's ministry in the worship totals. They are included in the Sunday School totals.

In recent trends we've noticed that the 11:05 service is near capacity. Last Sunday was a case in point. There were 325 in that service with only a scattering of some seats available. Let's say that 340 is capacity. The rule of thumb is that when a worship service or Sunday School class reaches 80 percent capacity, you need to add a new service or class. Why 80 percent? Because the facility is comfortably full at that point. Some suggest you should start making concrete plans for adjustments at 70 percent. 80 percent of 340 is 272. We have been beyond the 272 number frequently during the 11:05 hour.

The staff has entered into some healthy dialogue regarding options. The 11:00 hour remains the preferred time for people to come to worship. We can't assume that guests who come and see a packed auditorium will try one of the other services at an earlier time the next week. No, they will probably try another church. So at some point soon we will have to propose a strategy that will allow more people to attend at 11:05. There are many options, some short-term fixes, others more long-range in nature.

These are the kind of challenges we love to face. But as we face them, it is critical that each of us approach them with the idea that we will do whatever it takes to reach as many people as possible, even if it means changing worship times, watching a video feed, building a bigger facility, or whatever.

Pray for your staff as we continue our dialogue. We actually need to move fairly quickly. We are planning a series in the fall that will encourage every member to invite others to church. We can't be successful with that thrust if we have nowhere to seat people at 11:05. God will give us the wisdom we need to take next steps. In the meantime, don't stop inviting people. We will squeeze and squeeze until we come up with a solution.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Thursday, August 23, 2007


For many weeks we have been praying for August 26. We're anticipating a huge Sunday as summer vacation is over and kids are back at school. At church, The Edge service moves to The Pointe, new small groups are forming, Chapin U begins, and a Ignite adds a middles school time of worship. We're praying that God will bless us with 1,000 people this Sunday.

Recently, student pastor James Clonts, challenged the senior staff to spend some time fasting during the week leading up to August 26. He challenged his student leaders to do the same. Throughout the Scriptures we find evidence how God poured out His blessings when His people spent time praying and fasting. On one occasion when the disciples had difficulty freeing a man from demons, Jesus informed them that some barriers require prayer and fasting before they can be crossed.

The purpose of fasting is to turn one's focus completely on God concerning a matter of significant importance. Fasting is not just eliminating or reducing food intake for a period of time. That's just the mechanics. Fasting, from a biblical perspective, doesn't happen until the person turns his focus completely on God.

Usually we think of fasting in terms of food. But actually the concept extends beyond food intake. What are the "things" that dominate our lives? Sometimes it is food. But it could be the internet, video games, television, etc. So, the purpose of fasting is to eliminate something that often preoccupies our attention and instead divert that attention to God.

In Monday's staff meeting we went around the table and shared what our fast was going to look like this week. I've also heard reports from some of our students. For some it was eliminating all sweets, caffeine, or after-supper snacks. Others are doing a bread, fruit, and water fast. Some are eliminating time on the computer or Braves baseball. One is significantly reducing his visits to (I wonder who that would be.)

Our staff pastors are serious about wanting to see God break through our attendance barriers. We're not satisfied and we don't believe God is satisfied. We're praying and we're fasting for 1,000 this Sunday. We've been meeting for extra times of prayer all week long. And instead of Braves baseball or Tiger Illustrated, we're using that time to pray.

Are you praying for breakthrough? Are you praying for 1,000 this Sunday? Are you inviting friends, neighbors, and work associates to join you this Sunday?

God is the one who causes His church to grow. But He doesn't grow His church apart from using His men and women to accomplish the task. So join me in praying (and fasting) for 1,000 this Sunday.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Here are some learnings from my recent readings through the Gospel of John.

  • In Genesis God speaks the world into existence. In John God speaks salvation into existence. God's Word takes on human form.
  • It still amazes me to ponder that the manger baby was God.
  • I love the Message Bible rendering of 1:14--"The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood."
  • If Jesus forgives the sins of the world, why don't we proclaim it more?
  • Jesus knows me inside out, warts and all. I can't fool him.
  • Without life transformation ("born again") we will never see the kingdom of God.
  • Even in Jesus' day, believers were "church hopping"--from John to Jesus.
  • One sinful woman gave her life to Jesus. She was willing to tell her story. And a whole community was reached.
  • Jesus did only what the Father asked. Shouldn't the same be true for me?
  • Jesus had to get alone sometimes.
  • I want my life to be completely aligned with God.
  • Jesus never allowed the pressures of the crowds, family, or followers deter Him from His mission.
  • Jesus didn't mind standing up to His critics.
  • Religious leaders were always getting sidetracked with non-essential issues and minimized the main thing--transformed lives.
  • Jesus spent a lot of time with just a handful of followers--even when the crowds were demanding more time with Him.
  • Jesus' washing the disciples' feet forever begs the question--How can I serve?
  • God expects fruit-bearing. If you're not bearing fruit, chances are you are not connected to the Vine.
  • What a joy it is to serve the One who has already conquered the world.
  • In His prayer in chapter 17, Jesus clarified the mission of the church and how important it is for the church to be unified so that the mission can be accomplished.
  • If I had been Peter, would I have denied that I ever knew Jesus?
  • It is amazing how many prophecies were fulfilled on the day Jesus died.
  • The resurrection separates Christianity from all other religions. You cannot accept the resurrection as true and at the same time not believe that He is the only way to God.
  • John talks about many other signs Jesus performed--wouldn't you like to know, say, at least a dozen more?
  • What John wrote in his gospel is reliable and accurate.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Saturday, August 11, 2007


The final session on Saturday morning was highlighted by an interview with Jimmy Carter, worship leadership by Kirk Franklin, and a final message by Bill Hybels.


I've always had great respect for Jimmy Carter. Politically, he and I stand on opposite sides on many issues. But I can still learn from him. Bill Hybels frequently faces criticism for the guests he invites to the Leadership Summit. Inviting the former President was no exception. Personally, I like to hear from people with whom I don't agree. I like for people to mess with my mind. And anyone who has attained high levels of leadership success, certainly I can learn from him/her.

The interview with Jimmy Carter revealed some important leadership and life lessons that I need in my own life.

  • Carter has a tremendous passion for world peace. How often do I pray for peace?
  • Effective leaders can possess a gentle, humble spirit.
  • His courage in striving for racial reconciliation serves as a model for all.
  • Grace in the midst of defeat. Carter could have been bitter after his unsuccessful re-election bid. Instead, he and his wife moved on with their lives, living out their passions for resourcing the needs of the poor.


In his final challenge, Hybels talked about the power of inspiration. There were tons of takeaways for me in this message. He answered four questions.

1. How much does motivation matter in a person's work?

It matters a lot. Studies show a 40 percent differential when a person is motivated in his job.

2. Whose job is it to keep me motivated?

It is my responsibility. 1 Samuel 30:6--David encouraged himself in God. I must never blame anyone else for my sagging spirit. Nobody wants to follow a leader who mopes around.

10 ways to motivate myself:

  • I must stay crystal clear about my calling from God.
  • Make sure I leverage my spiritual gifts the way God gave them to me.
  • Make sure the players on my team are inspiring people.
  • Read biographies of people who beat the odds to accomplish great things.
  • Rub shoulders with e.i.p.'s (exceptionally inspiring people).
  • Participate in e.i.e.'s (exceptionally inspiring events).
  • Pay attention to physical disciplines.
  • Pay attention to my working environment (my office should be furnished with things that are conducive to an effective working environment).
  • Have inspiring recreation outside the work environment.
  • Practice daily spiritual disciplines that keep me spiritually fit.

3. What's the best way to inspire those around me?

The best way to motivate others is for them to see a motivated me. Inspiration is contagious.

  • Connect everyone I lead to a compelling cause, a grander vision.
  • Learn the inspiration language of everyone on my team.
  • Identify and reduce every demotivating dynamic I possibly can.
  • Celebrate every sign of progress toward our shared goals.

4. What would a church look like where every member was inspired?

Just take a look at Acts 2 and you will get a glimpse. Verse 43 says they all felt a sense of awe at what God was doing. It is these kinds of churches God is asking us to lead.

I look forward to the Summit every August. It's always a lift and is always filled with dynamic leadership takeaways. Next year's event is August 7-9. Will you pray about going next year?

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."


Before the primary speakers Bill Hybels in ten minutes time presented the results of an extensive study his church conducted on the spiritual growth of the Willow Creek family. His remarks resonated with every pastor present. In a nutshell, Willow discovered that they were doing a great job helping pre-Christians and new/young Christians progress in their spiritual journey. They were doing the least effective job with those considered to be the most spiritually mature members. They were hearing the common complaint, "We're not getting fed." Where they failed was not in providing deeper Bible study opportunties. Where they missed the boat was early on helping new, emerging Christians learn how to feed themselves. Remarkable insights that certainly apply to Chapin Baptist.


Porter is one of the world's foremost authorities on competitive strategy. It was interesting to see how our Chapin Baptists responded to his presentation. It was like we were in a doctor's level business school. A few of our folks were eating up his words. Others were bored stiff. My best takeway from this session--our need to establish goals for every ministry/project we do. What do we hope to accomplish? What are the most pressing needs within the church body? What are the most pressing needs in the community? What gifts/talents do we have in the body that will meet those needs?

Colin Powell

This was a super interview that Bill Hybels conducted with the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State. Let me give you some of what he calls his "Powell Principles".

  • Leaders should promote a clash of ideas. "Argue with me." Then the leader, after hearing arguments must say, "Here is what we will do."
  • Encourage a noisy system. Pull out of people as much knowledge as you can.
  • Only people get things done. Not charts, lectures, etc.
  • Maintain an open door policy. Give people freedom to pop in to provide input and feedback.
  • Reward your best performers. Get rid of your non-performers.
  • Be prepared to disappoint people and to make the.m angry.
  • Check your ego at the door.
  • Make sure you have fun in your command.
  • Avoid war if at all possible.
  • Prepare to be lonely. It is the leader who has to go home after having made the tough decisions.


John is pastor of the Menlo Park Presbyterian Church near San Francisco. He wrote one of my all-time favorite books If You Want to Walk on Water. John hit a grand slam with his message. Using the book of Esther, he talked about A Leader's Greatest Fear. The theme that stirred up lots of further discussion with Chapin Baptists was the idea of "shadow missions." Anything that detracts or distracts from the primary mission is a shadow mission. Even if the shadow mission is only 10 degrees off the primary mission, we are off track and need to be recalibrated. We talked in our circles about how often pride and success can become shadow missions.

Jesus often had to deal with the temptations to get off track from His main mission. His shadow mission--how can I be Savior without going to the cross? How can I be Messiah without suffering?

The question from Esther that lingers on in our hearts--Who knows but that you have come to a time such as this?


Curtis is a well-known and respected screenwriter (Four Weddings and a Funeral; Notting Hill). He has done significant work in dealing with Third World debt and poverty in Africa. This interview was refreshing, enlightening, and soul-stirring. Here is a fellow who admittedly does not have faith issues settled, someone who lays no claim to being a committed follower of Christ. Yet he is making a gigantic impact addressing the needs of the poor in Africa. He has raised a billion dollars in providing assistance.

The students with us on this trip were very disturbed and moved as they saw some of the dire needs in the Third World. They want to make a difference. As Christians and as leaders in Chapin Baptist Church, are we doing all we can to resource poverty-stricken areas in our community and beyond? What more do we need to do to focus on Third-World poverty?

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Friday, August 10, 2007


Carly is one of the world's most admired business leaders. From 1999-2005 she served as president and CEO of Hewlet-Packard.

In this session Bill Hybels interviewed Carly. He stated that her book Tough Choices is one of his top ten recommended books for leadership. That's a pretty strong recommendation from someone who reads a million books a year (little exaggeration).

  • What she learned from studying logic--the power of the right question.
  • Fear was a big deal for her. But she learned that every time she stared down a fear, she became stronger.
  • Don't let others' fears become your problem.
  • Save your tears for things that matter in life.
  • How important is motivating a team? Motivation is everything.
  • Give people a more compelling vision that what they fear. But let them know the reality of how difficult the vision will be.
  • The boss who fired her up the most was the one who saw potential in her.
  • No matter what position a person holds, expect that person to develop leadership skills.
  • Biggest takeaway for me--Leadership requires passion and dispassion. The passion part is obvious. Dispassion means having enough objectivity to see what has to happen for the vision to become reality and who on the team will be able to make the journey with you. Dispassion allows you to make the difficult choices.
  • There is a gift in everything.

    I was a little disappointed in this talk. Flake has done a superb job as the senior pastor of the 23,000 member Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York in Queens.
    He talked about five models of leadership: transitional, transactional, transparency, transcendent, and transformational.
    The transformational leader creates for the next generation.

    Marcus is a tremendous communicator. He is author of four best-selling books. His most recent, which I'm currently reading, is Go Put Your Strengths to Work.
  • Build on your strengths and manage around your weaknesses.
  • The way we learn excellence is by studying excellence.
  • Positive psychology is a rapidly growing branch in the field of psychology.
  • Myth 1: As you grow, personality changes.
  • Truth 1: As you grow, you become of who you already are.
  • Myth 2: You grow most in your areas of greatest weakness.
  • Truth 2: You grow most in your areas of strength.
  • Myth 3: A great team member puts his strengths aside and does whatever it takes to help the team.
  • Truth 3: A great team member deliberately volunteers his strengths to the team most of the time.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."


I'm with around 20 of our church members in Charlotte attending the annual Leadership Summit hosted by Willow Creek Church. The conference is view by tens of thousands of people each year in numerous spots around the country and world. The Summit is one of the highlights of my year. I always enjoy hanging out with our members in settings that challenge us to move outside the box for the kingdom. Here are some highlights from Thursday's sessions.

Bill Hybels:

Bill "brought it home" in the opening message called "A Vision to Die For."

  • Nothing matters more than ownership of a vision. The most compelling vision is worthless unless it is owned. The vision must not just be big and bold; it must be owned.
  • From John 10--there is a huge difference between how hired hands care for the sheep versus how owners care for the sheep. Am I a hired hand or owner?
  • Am I willing to die for the vision God has given me for Chapin Baptist?
  • He talked about the three stages of vision: vision formation, vision refined, and vision declaration
  • Vision formation--not the Moses on Sinai kind of vision. Instead, team approach is needed. It is important to gather key leaders and ask the question: What does God want our church to look like five years from now?
  • Once the leader gets a glimpse of God's vision, he should take the first draft form to key groups in the church and say, "This is just a draft. What excites you? What scares you?" And then listen.
  • Through PROCESS the leader then tests his vision message to the key leaders of the church to make sure that it is a compelling message. Then he stands before the people and says, "This is what the senior leaders of our church think our church should look like in the next few years.
  • The singlemost important factor for people buying into vision is the level to which you own it. If they know you will sacrifice to see it fulfilled, then they will also.
  • People won't follow a hireling.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


I recently finished a deliberate reading through the Book of Numbers. Numbers is not the easiest book to get into. But it is filled with great lessons. Listed below are some of my observations and gleanings.

  • Becoming a true community of believers is a long, messy, complex process.
  • Numbers are important to God. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise.
  • Now I see where the clergy-laity distinction got its roots. The Levites were totally singled out from the rest of the population.
  • God spoke to His leaders Moses and Aaron. I believe He still speaks to His leaders today (but not necessarily audibly).
  • God likes creativity, but He also wants things organized.
  • God also likes excellence in worship. Everyone had a role/ministry to play.
  • Check out chapter 5 to learn an interesting way to determine if a woman was guilty of adulery.
  • God takes vows seriously.
  • I wonder how many different numbers are listed in the Book of Numbers.
  • I never noticed before, but God welcomed "outsiders" (those outside the faith) to participate in the Passover.
  • God and grumbling and whining do not get along.
  • Moses was brutally honest with God in his prayers--"Just kill me."
  • Even people back then talked behind the leader's back.
  • Numbers 13-14 are two of the most significant chapters in the Old Testament. They explain why Israel had to wander in wilderness for 40 years. What is interesting is that the spies' assignment was not to go into the land and assess the likelihood of success. They were to go and scout out the land God had already given them.
  • The majority is not always right. In fact, show me in the Bible where "majority rules" is the way to run a church.
  • Caleb had a "we can do it" faith.
  • There is some good that came out of the people's grumbling, resisting, bailing, and seeking a new leader. It forced the leaders to pray.
  • One of the true tests of leadership is how to keep leading when people whine and don't want to follow.
  • Moses and the rock--It's not good for a leader to act in anger.
  • God sure is innovative--speaking through a donkey!
  • Balaam the prophet was careful to speak ONLY what God said. He could not be swayed otherwise.
  • Moses handed the torch of leadership with great grace. There was no bitterness or jealousy. His vision was still strong and so was his compassion for his people.
  • God expects our best when it comes to sacrifice.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Tuesday, July 31, 2007


What is the most important part of your day? By far, most important for me is the time I spend alone with God. Call it whatever you want--quiet time, devotional, prayer and Bible reading, private worship. I can't survive without it.

Let me tell you what I'm currently doing. The first thing I do is talk to God and say, "God, talk to me." Then I read a section of the Bible, looking for some verse, phrase or word that "jumps out" at me. Currently I'm reading through John's gospel in The Message Bible. I read through a New Testament book and then an Old Testament book. So I go back and forth. I'm not trying to speed read through the Bible in a year. I'm taking it slowly.

There are two things I've started doing that have really jump started my times with God. First, I've started praying some of the Scriptures as I read them. For example, this morning I was in John 6. When I read where Jesus went up the mountain to be by Himself, I breathed a prayer: "Lord, that's what I need to do when ministry starts to crowd in on my personal walk with you. Help me to get away more to pray." When I read about Jesus aligning His life with what the Father wanted, I prayed, "Lord, I want my life to be completely aligned with your will." Praying the Scriptures has really helped strengthen my walk.

Second, every day I write a sentence or two that captures an insight that I gleaned from the reading. I guess this qualifies as journaling, even though it's only a sentence or two.

After reading one to three chapters, I read a few pages in a devotional book. Right now I'm reading Swindoll's So You Want to Be Like Christ. (By the way, this is an excellent book for quiet time material.) Then I shut my reading materials and pray and listen. I try to get focused for the day ahead. Sometimes I will put on my headphones and listen to some good praise and worship music.

On Monday-Friday, I spend 25-30 minutes in my time alone with God. I'm usually in my chair no later than 6:20 and at 6:45 I'm up and headed to Crooked Creek Part for my exercise routines. On Saturday I usually sleep in; so the quiet time happens later in the morning. If there is one day that I struggle to have my quiet time, it is Sunday. I'm up early and I'm praying and going over my message. So, I'm praying and looking at the Scriptures, but for my record book, that doesn't count as a quiet time. Usually, my Sunday time alone with God happens right before bed.

Of course, throughout the week in the office and at home, I'm reading and studying. But, again, for my record book, that doesn't count for my quiet time. I must have those 25-30 minutes alone with God each day. Otherwise, my spiritual vitality will wane quickly.

What works for me might not work for you. Here are three keys to having a meaningful time alone with God.

(1) Have a set time and stick to it.

(2) Have a set place, a place that is your sanctuary where God meets with you.

(3) Keep it fresh. Try different things. When you find yourself in a rut, get out of it as quickly as possible by trying something new and fresh.

A quiet time is an absolute must. A person cannot be effective for the kingdom without it.

Feel free to post a comment to share the makeup of your times with God.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."